I Heart my HTPC

July 29, 2008

HTPCMy opinion of HTPC’s has pretty much come full circle in the last 10 years or so. It’s not that my standards have dropped, as much as it’s the quality of the hardware and software that has improved dramatically. My HTPC recommendations used to go along the lines of “buy something that’ll get the job accomplished but don’t go overboard”. Now I’m of the opinion that if you think this is for you, by all means, go for it. Shoot for full 1080p playback and even the lossless audio support that’s started popping up on certain motherboards.

The latest additions to my Frankenstein’esque HTPC were a Hauppauge WinTV-HVR 950 (QAM capable) tuner stick, a LG GGC-H20L Blu-ray/HD DVD combo drive and a XFX 750a SLI nForce motherboard / AMD 5600+ combo. Or in other words, I just completely revamped my system. It was long overdue and looking back I wish I’d aimed for this level of performance from the get-go but my wallet would’ve had no part of it. As it turns out I paid less to get 1080p and HD disc capable than I originally paid for the whole rig (gotta love those Fry’s CPU/mobo combos).

My original reluctance to recommend HTPC’s also stemmed from the fact that they suffered from the jack of all trades master of none syndrome. Sure they could play a DVD but not as well as a standalone and once they could, Blu-ray and HD DVD made that whole point moot. Well times change and not only can HTPC’s play DVD’s as well as all the best standalones, now they can play Blu-ray and HD DVD discs. As if that wasn’t enough it won’t be much longer before Vista media center can tune and record QAM HD signals without third party hacks.

Yep, I’ve come to view my HTPC as an indispensible component in my home theater system, the convenience of having a one box solution (come on MCE QAM update!) is a big hit at our house. That’s a long way from looking at it as a pariah as I once did. As a matter of fact I’ve turned that scornful eye toward the redundant, stand-alone components in my equipment rack. Now if only this wasn’t the only Blu-ray, Xbox 360, Wii combo on the market…



Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under HTPC


Comments

  • Eric

    “So your HTPC can upscale dvd’s as good as say the best Oppo 983?”

    Yes actually, it can. Both ATI and Nvidia have basic graphics cards and even onboard video that scores 120-130 on the HQV score. They do look very good.

    If you want QAM support I suggest you just abandon your wait and go with SageTV over MCE. It can do QAM plus a whole lot more.

  • rl1856

    I’ve just started on the HTPC path by converting and old PC tower into a PVR. I added a Geforce 6200 video card, a Hauppauge 1600 PVR card (both closeouts) and a wifi card to the PC. Now I can stream internet video and record TV as needed. Undoubtedly I will upgrade as I learn more, but right now I am digging this whole covergance thing !

  • rl1856

    I’ve just started on the HTPC path by converting and old PC tower into a PVR. I added a Geforce 6200 video card, a Hauppauge 1600 PVR card (both closeouts) and a wifi card to the PC. Now I can stream internet video and record TV as needed. Undoubtedly I will upgrade as I learn more, but right now I am digging this whole covergance thing !

  • Eric

    “So your HTPC can upscale dvd’s as good as say the best Oppo 983?”

    Yes actually, it can. Both ATI and Nvidia have basic graphics cards and even onboard video that scores 120-130 on the HQV score. They do look very good.

    If you want QAM support I suggest you just abandon your wait and go with SageTV over MCE. It can do QAM plus a whole lot more.

  • B.Greenway

    Aaron, on Thursdays.

  • B.Greenway

    Aaron, on Thursdays.

  • Aaron

    So your HTPC can upscale dvd’s as good as say the best Oppo 983?

  • Aaron

    So your HTPC can upscale dvd’s as good as say the best Oppo 983?